Climbing Beneath The Midnight Sun

It is odd the think that at 1 am in the morning, it can be light enough to see, let alone experience adventure with out the aid of artificial light. Well in Alaska it is possible! Having just past the summer solstice not long ago, on the 21st of June, the endless summer nights are still in full swing. Many people come to Alaska, and have to cover the windows, and wear shades on their eyes, just to catch a few z’s. But what I have found is

that when you work hard, and enjoy the outdoors, it is quite easy to fall asleep, even under the sun, rather than the moon and stars. It is a very different concept for sure, but it is something that must be dealt with. And what better way to deal with it than to go on an adventure. And not just any adventure, but a climbing one!

Before this year I really had not done much consistent climbing, but after an extended stay in Idaho this spring, (check out adventure in Idaho here), and meeting a few people that were really into it, my already present desire for climbing began to grow. I was privileged to attend a few local climbing competitions, not to try and win, but to meet new people, and to learn more about the sport. I was able to do both, and grew a lot. One was a bouldering competition, and the other a top rope competition. Meaning one was without ropes, and one was with. If you ever get a chance to try out a competitive climbing event, akrockclimberichand.jpgI would strongly suggest it. Whether or not you are skilled enough, it puts you to the test, and really grows your climbing knowledge. And you get chances to get Schwag, i.e. free stuff. The climbing extended beyond the gym though, and I had the chance to climb with others outdoors, which is much better than indoor, so if you are able and want to try something new, jump on some real rocks. The feeling is phenomenal. However, make sure you are with really experienced people, with the right gear, because it can become a very serious situation, and more dangerous than in a gym with pads.

When I finally made it back home to Alaska, I still had the climbing itch in my fingers and feet, and it would not go away except with some use of both. So a few other hardy fellows and myself set out to find some climbable walls, cliffs and boulders in the Lake Clark region. The amount of rock and cliffs were in a large abundance, however, finding some with decent faces, and non-crumbly rock was another matter. We got lucky though, and the first cliff we found produced some great results. Although it was only some thirty feet high, it satisfied my craving, at least for a little while. We had several people in our party, and we even got some new climbers on a wall, and they learned the “ropes”. It was very rewarding to see others enjoying the sport, which is what its all about, sharing the experience with others.

The lack of a wide array of climbing spots and gear was limiting, but it did not keep us back. We stuck with top roping, and bouldering, which proved successful, on short walls that had a sufficient amount of solid rock. The best climbing outing came about on a trip with a different destination. It was a full day trip that took use 30 miles up the lake, to a gorgeous place called Little Lake Clark, home to the Cave Falls. It is a water fall that cascades over a hundred feet, into a roaring basin, that creates its own wind. All of which lies behind a huge cavern, that is large enough to climb into, and observe the water fall and the lake from within. (Look for a post about that amazing place, coming soon). Along the hike some granite boulders were observed, and proved to be sufficient for a short little

send up its beautiful face. Then our destination became the inlet of the Lake, and we were surrounded by huge granite walls, with a beautiful sun above. The nearest wall was not the highest, but once again served to give us a few different routes. An easy 5.8, that most everyone was able to try a hand at, and then a 5.11 with a wicked overhang, that had less holds than was needed to accomplish the accent, for our slightly amateur skills. It proved a good challenge though, and filled our day with many hours of fore arm burning enjoyment.

Since then I have not been able to return to the granite cliffs, and unfortunately there are none closer than 20 miles by boat. But we have not forgotten the joy we had from climbing together, and I am looking forward to getting out again soon, and testing the arm and finger strength. Once again, the adventure had to be discovered, and I hope that you will get out there and discover yours.

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